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Laura Close: Why I Decided to Help Create the First Platform Dedicated to DEI Process Improvemen

5 Apr, 2021

by Laura Close
Laura Close: Why I Decided to Help Create the First Platform Dedicated to DEI Process Improvemen
I’ve watched with great interest as the equity and inclusion frameworks behind the first half of my career have made their way steadily into enterprise. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) program growth is outpacing other parts of the business, in fact Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs) were the fastest growing C-suite role in 2020 –outpacing peer roles by 84%.

The high demand for DEI is coming from within as well as without: from each company’s workforce as well as from each brand’s consumer base.

Co-founding Included is a culmination of my career and passions to date.

I’m not surprised at the incredible speed with which companies are adopting DEI practices or the demand that drives it. The simple fact is that DEI best practices represent a once-in-a-generation revolution in what we call employee engagement.

The demand for DEI is unsurprising to me.

Though I now coach across the C-suite portfolio, at the start of my career coaching practice I specialized in mid-career and younger, high potential clients. I spent years coaching women, queer folks, Black and BIPOC professionals, ESL professionals, and people of an array of nationalities who were trying their hardest to grow their careers in big, matrixed organizations.

A common thread through their experiences was this: if they did not magically figure out how to advocate for themselves, they would slip through the cracks.

When you center the belonging, inclusion and equity experiences of underrepresented minorities (URM) you are necessarily driven to create programs, policies, and yes –technology that closes gaps and strengthens impact for all employees. This is called inclusive design and I’m proud to be co-founding Included where we bring this concept to life.

We haven’t yet seen the progress we want within business’ ability to recruit, develop, grow and promote a robustly diverse, global workforce –but with technology like Included the ability to measuring and track our outcomes is rising.

CDOs are now being asked to move from Why metrics to How metrics (beautifully written about by Albrey Brown)–meaning no longer is the question Why are we not retaining URM employees, to How can we meet the needs of URM employees?

The technology to drive a continuous improvement process, used by every other part of the business to deliver on goals and continually course correct does not yet exist for DEI programs. This feels like a miss –of outsized impact.

I began DEI work at a time before technology existed as it does today, and before the private sector was investing in this topic area. I mentored under civil society leaders who had dedicated their lives to closing opportunity gaps across our society.

The Employee resource groups (ERGs), DEI councils, inclusion and belonging practices that my contemporaries and those mentors that came before us pioneered in civil society to increase the reach, impact, and power of marginalized voices in the democratic process are now being adopted by HR and DEI leaders from all sectors.

That global brands are adopting these frameworks bodes well for a strong belonging and inclusion experience per employee. But as my mentors taught me decades ago when I began this work: follow the numbers –they prove out our story.

Included’s People Data Platform (PDP) allows CDOs, DEI and HR leaders to go beyond current state and gain access to the insights they need to tell the full and complete people story of their workforce development.

At Included we believe CDOs deserve the capability to measure what matters, continuously.

If you are interested in learning more about how our Early Adopter customers are continuously measuring and improving the reach and impact of their global DEI programs, please reach out. I’d be happy to discuss our results and what opportunities there are to join our Early Adopter cohort!



Laura Close

Laura Close is co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer at She brings twenty years of experience in the DEI space, originating as a political campaigns & policy expert in racial, gender, and economic justice in the late 90s. Laura has spent her career locking in new structural opportunities and institutional access for historically excluded or underrepresented communities. Previously she built an award-winning global executive coaching firm with a client base spanning FAANG and unicorn startups. Her insights have been featured in MarketWatch, the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM), and she was named an HR tech influencer to follow in 2022.

Learn more about Included, book your demo here.

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